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|When the Sleeper Wakes||H. G. [Herbert George] Wells|
The Hall Of The Atlas
|Page 5 of 6||
"Yes?" said Graham.
"We have grave social troubles."
"Things have come to such a pass that, in fact, is advisable to seclude you here."
"Keep me prisoner! " exclaimed Graham.
"Well--to ask you to keep in seclusion."
Graham turned on him. "This is strange!" he said.
"No harm will be done you."
"No harm ! "
"But you must be kept here--"
"While I learn my position, I presume."
"Very well then. Begin. Why _harm?_"
" Not now."
"Why not? "
"It is too long a story, Sire."
"All the more reason I should begin at once. You say I am a person of importance. What was that shouting I heard? Why is a great multitude shouting and excited because my trance is over, and who are the men in white in that huge council chamber? "
"All in good time, Sire," said Howard. "But not crudely, not crudely. This is one of those flimsy times when no man has a settled mind. Your awakening. No one expected your awakening. The Council is consulting."
"What council? "
"The Council you saw."
Graham made a petulant movement. " This is not right," he said. " I should be told what is happening.
"You must wait. Really you must wait."
Graham sat down abruptly. "I suppose since I have waited so long to resume life," he said, "that I must wait a little longer."
"That is better," said Howard. "Yes, that is much better. And I must leave you alone. For a space. While I attend the discussion in the Council. I am sorry."
He went towards the noiseless door, hesitated and vanished.
Graham walked to the door, tried it, found it securely fastened in some way he never came to understand, turned about, paced the room restlessly, made the circuit of the room, and sat down. He remained sitting for some time with folded arms and knitted brow, biting his finger nails and trying to piece together the kaleidoscopic impressions of this first hour of awakened life; the vast mechanical spaces, the endless series of chambers and passages, the great struggle that roared and splashed through these strange ways, the little group of remote unsympathetic men beneath the colossal Atlas, Howard's mysterious behaviour. There was an inkling of some vast inheritance already in his mind--a vast inheritance perhaps misapplied--of some unprecedented importance and opportunity. What had he to do? And this room's secluded silence was eloquent of imprisonment!
It came into Graham's mind with irresistible conviction that this series of magnificent impressions was a dream. He tried to shut his eyes and succeeded, but that time-honoured device led to no awakening.
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|When the Sleeper Wakes
H. G. [Herbert George] Wells
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